“Star” Gazing at the National Portrait Gallery

Exhibition Highlights 53 Masterful Portraits of Influential Figures
April 2, 2015
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In a world consumed by personal and celebrity image making, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery considers how personalities are constructed with “Eye Pop: The Celebrity Gaze.” The exhibition features 53 portraits and will be open at the Portrait Gallery May 22 through July 10, 2016.

Many of these works of art are masterful photographs, such as Todd Glaser’s panoramic image of surfer Kelly Slater or Annie Leibovitz’s classic depiction of Renée Fleming on stage. Paintings, prints and time-based media works are also represented. Painter Will Cotton represents Katy Perry as an airbrushed confection, while Colin Davidson offers an introspective portrait of Brad Pitt. Video artist Bo Gehring provides a personal view of Esperanza Spalding listening to music that inspires her own work. And Luke Dubois pulls from the Internet and his own software to give a generative, ever-changing double portrait of Google’s Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

“Celebrity evolved with modernity and with the use of visual media to replicate a likeness and create a reputation,” said Kim Sajet, director of the museum. “These origins now exist uneasily in a postmodern society in which fame is fleeting, public attention is fickle and the eye is always on the next big thing.”

The curators for this exhibition are Associate Director of Education and Visitor Experience Rebecca Kasemeyer, Chief Curator Brandon Fortune, Senior Historian David C. Ward, Curator Emerita of Prints and Drawings Wendy Wick Reaves, Senior Curator of Photographs Ann Shumard, Curator for Latino Art and History Taína Caragol, Associate Curator of Painting and Sculpture Dorothy Moss and Assistant Curator of Prints and Drawings Asma Naeem.    

The Portraits in “Eye Pop”   

  • Marc Anthony by ADÁL, 1994
  • Eva Longoria by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, 2010
  • John Baldessari by Alphonse van Woerkom, 2009
  • Marc Jacobs by Elizabeth Peyton, 2003
  • Sergey Brin and Larry Page by Luke Dubois, 2013
  • Floyd Mayweather Jr. by Holger Keifel, 2005
  • Kobe Bryant by Rick Chapman, 2007
  • Audra McDonald by Jesse Frohman, 1999
  • Sandra Cisneros by Al Rendon, 1998
  • Michelle Obama by Mickalene Thomas, 2008
  • Cesar Pelli by Philip Grausman, 2014
  • Daniel Dae Kim by CYJO, 2007
  • Katy Perry by Will Cotton, 2010
  • Silver Deb by Deborah Kass, 2012
  • Michael Phelps by Rick Chapman, 2007
  • Yellow Deb by Deborah Kass, 2012
  • Brad Pitt by Colin Davidson, 2013
  • Blue Deb by Deborah Kass, 2012
  • Albert Pujols by Rick Chapman, 2006
  • Red Deb by Deborah Kass, 2012
  • Condolezza Rice by Mickalene Thomas, 2007–8
  • Peter Dinklage by Jesse Frohman, 2003
  • Maxine Singer by Jon R. Friedman, 2001–12
  • Eminem by Elizabeth Peyton, 2003
  • Kelly Slater by Todd Glaser, 2011
  • Louise Erdrich by Alec Soth, 2012
  • Dana Tai Soon Burgess by CYJO, 2007
  • Renée Fleming by Annie Leibovitz, 2008
  • Sonia Sotomayor by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, 2010
  • Michael J. Fox by Steve Pyke, 2008
  • Esperanza Spalding by Bo Gehring, 2014
  • Barney Frank by Jon R. Friedman, 2012
  • Britney Spears by Luke Dubois, 2010
  • Diane von Fürstenberg by Anh Duong, 2001
  • Barbra Streisand by Deborah Kass, 2013
  • Jeff Gordon by Rick Chapman, 2002
  • Anne Tyler by David Levine, 2004
  • Tony Hawk by Rick Chapman, 2002
  • Harold Varmus by Jon R. Friedman, 2010
  • Bernard Hopkins by Holger Keifel, 2003
  • Dwyane Wade by Rick Chapman, 2006
  • LeBron James by Rick Chapman, 2006
  • Alice Waters by Dave Woody, 2010
  • Jhumpa Lahiri by David Levine, 2003
  • Shaun White by Rick Chapman, 2006
  • Chang-rae Lee by CYJO, 2006
  • Robert Wilson by Chuck Close, 2012
  • Spike Lee by Jesse Frohman, 1999
  • Serena Williams by Rick Chapman, 2007
  • John Leguizamo by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, 2011
  • Venus Williams by Rick Chapman, 2006
  • Maya Lin by Karin Sander, 2014
  • Oprah Winfrey by Mickalene Thomas, 2007–8


National Portrait Gallery 

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the history of America through the individuals who have shaped its culture. Through the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose lives tell the American story.

The National Portrait Gallery is part of the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture at Eighth and F streets N.W., Washington, D.C. Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000. Website: npg.si.edu. Follow the museum on social media at @NPG, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Tumblr.

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Bethany Bentley